October 16, 2020

‘Biking for Babies’ offers powerful witness for the unborn

A group of cyclists taking part in the annual “Biking for Babies” poses on Sept. 19 in the parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

A group of cyclists taking part in the annual “Biking for Babies” poses on Sept. 19 in the parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

It was as Robert Newport had envisioned it—only years earlier.

And it led to tears of gratitude on Sept. 19 after the seventh annual Indiana “Biking for Babies” event drew its largest participation since its inception in 2014.

“There were four of us, all Knights [of Columbus members] from Mater Dei Council 437” in Indianapolis who rode in 2014, recalled Newport, who served as the captain for this year’s Indiana “Biking for Babies” team. “We didn’t know what or how, but we all wanted to do something for the defense of life to inspire people and foster unity in pro-life circles.”

Six years later, 22 cyclists took part in the three-day, 170-mile ride that started on Sept. 18 at the Illinois-Indiana state line west of Terre Haute and ended on Sept. 20 at the Indiana-Ohio state line east of Richmond. Bikers were able to choose whether they wanted to ride a portion or the entire distance. It was also the first year the Indiana group began a partnership with a national pro-life cycling group that shares the same name.

Newport fought back tears at a “Biking for Babies” midpoint rally on Sept. 19 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis as he talked about the challenges of living in a society where the killing of unborn children is legal.

“We won’t be judged on whether or not we ended the scourge of abortion. But we will be judged on whether or not we tried,” said Newport, a member of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis.

To date, more than $10,000 has been raised thanks to this year’s ride to purchase life-saving ultrasound machines for Indiana Women’s Care Centers. Donations are still being accepted.

In recent years, Knights of Columbus councils throughout the U.S. have donated more than 1,000 ultrasound machines to pregnancy care centers (PCCs), including nearly 40 donated by councils to PCCs in Indiana. In 2019, Indiana Knights led the nation by donating six machines. More than $100,000 was raised by Indiana councils of the Knights for ultrasound machines last year. Each machine costs approximately $35,000, and the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council matches every local dollar raised.

During the midpoint rally for “Biking for Babies” at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Jenny Hubbard discussed how ultrasound machines are making a difference.

“We do between 15-20 ultrasounds a day and performed more than 3,200 ultrasounds last year,” noted Hubbard, who is director of the Women’s Care Center (WCC) in Indianapolis.

WCC received a free ultrasound machine from the Knights a few years ago, and it has allowed the center to double the number of women it serves, Hubbard noted.

“Many of these women are looking for unconditional love and support,” Hubbard said. Offering this service, she added, is a “game changer.” Of the women who have an ultrasound performed, 85% of them keep their babies.

As an avid cyclist, Chris Rito was eager to ride his bike “as a messenger for Jesus.” Although he has participated in “Biking for Babies” in the past, he had never ridden all three days. This year, he did.

“This is such a great way to evangelize to people that might not otherwise listen to or see a pro-life message,” said Rito, a member of SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood. “The first time I participated, I was also pleasantly surprised—though I shouldn’t have been—to have so much prayer involved as well, as we stop and say decades of the rosary all along the way.”

Newport said the bikers’ outreach is worth the effort. “We’re ending millions of lives for the sake of our own convenience, and it has to stop,” he said. “We must have a sense of urgency about it. What rights do you have if not the right to life?”

Newport also later shared how he was “overwhelmed with how things turned out this year,” and the many “blessings and graces” that were a part of the event—from the support of several priests and Larry Kunkel, who serves as the life director for the Indiana State Council of the Knights of Columbus; to families who hosted the riders during their three-day trek; to members of the state council of the Indiana Knights of Columbus; and all who have donated thus far.

“We really felt like people had our backs,” Newport said. “We had our struggles achieving that, but this year the pieces came together in a big way, and we plan to seize the opportunity to build on it.

“We raised $6,000 toward an ultrasound machine before we stepped on our bikes, and that’s more than we had ever raised before. People chipped in $1,000 at [Our Lady of] Lourdes alone.”

As he reflected on the ride and its fundamental message of protecting the unborn, Rito repeated the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta: “Do small things with great love.”

“Riding our bikes and praying the rosary and standing up for the dignity of human life is a seemingly small thing to do, but a powerful public witness that we did with great love,” he said. “I encourage everyone to find one’s own gift and one’s own passion, and to use it to do small things for Christ and for mankind with great love.”

(To donate to Indiana’s “Biking for Babies” ride, go to kofc437.com. Select “Indiana Local Ride” from the drop-down menu to donate. Checks made out to “Biking for Babies - Indiana Ride”can be mailed to: Biking for Babies, P.O. Box 644, Saint Charles, MO 63302.)

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